The Jhargram Raj Palace, W.Bengal - now a heritage hotel!!

Jhargram palace, W. bengal, /

The Jhargram Raj Palace, the current residence of the Malla Deb Royal family is in Jhargram district of West Bengal. The royal family is running a heritage hotel with a number of richly decorated  rooms on the ground floor in association with the state tourism department. 

The idea of turning the decadent old palaces into luxurious hotels is not a new one and in the last  couple of decades many ex princely royal families have converted their palatial palaces into money spinning heritage hotels in  association with some established 5 star hotels or tourism department.  The main advantages are they can keep the palaces in good condition, maintain their legacy and supplement their income to run the family and the retinue.  Many palaces in Rajasthan are now turned into 5 star luxury hotels at an affordable price for the people so that they can experience a slice of past royal luxury in a royal ambiance and the accompanying  extravaganza.  

Jhargram Raj  founded in  1592 CE  by brothers Sarveshwar Singh and his elder brother is a small kingdom mostly made of wooded areas. They  were Generals under Man Singh of Amer (Dean and Subhedar - 1594–1606) to whom  Emperor Akbar granted Subehdari of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa to Raja Man Singh.

Native of Fatehpur Sikri, near Agra, UP. hailing from the Chauhan clan of Rajputs, Sarveshwar Singh was  a courageous warrior. He  never lost time  and defeated the army of local  Mal tribal kings who were ruling the region known as Junglekhand.  Raja Man Singh, quite pleased with his generals' military victory, granted   mansabdari of the entire forested region.   Every year this victory is celebrated  with an idol of Mal Raja  made in wood  is slain on Vijayadashami day. The capital is  Jhargram and Rajput Chauhan clan members were addressed by the title "Malla Deb"- the title they still  carry.

The members of Chauhan family felt  very much agitated when East India company laid their strong foundation after the battles of Plassey and  Buxar. The English company and its army committed atrocities and their wheeling and dealing in trade activities, etc further infuriated the rulers of Jhargram.

 Far before the first war of independence Vellore mutiny of Tamil nadu -  10 July 1806 -  first large scale revolt against the EIC prior to 1857-58, in 1799 ruler of  Jhargram, revolted against the East India Company  with support from rulers of Bishnupur and other kingdoms. They were unable to swallow the unimaginable  atrocities committed by the English Co which was running a proxy  government  on behalf of the British Crown     

Later termed Chuar mutiny, (Chuar rebellion or Jungle Mahal) violent protest  was a series of peasant movements between 1766 to 1816 by the tribal inhabitants of the countryside surrounding the Jungle Mahals. For their livelihood they depended on their lands.  They protested  against the British officials who were trying to exploit their forestlands  and water resources.  The rulers were  quite angry as the British forced them to surrender their land to the company and changed their royal status to the lower level of a Zamindari estate. The ruler of  Jhargram  under the British authority was relegated to this status.. The kingdom had eight sardars under the system and one Sub Zamindar of Beliaberah.Initially, the Jhargram estate was not defined as a Princely State though the chief was holding the title of ''Raja.'' Though there was a proposal after 1940 to give it the princely status, it did not come through because of India's independence in 1947.

Raja Narasingha Malla Deb of Jhargram,

Above image: ''The last and the 16th king Raja Narasingha Malla Deb reigned from 1916 until his royal powers were abolished by an amendment to the Constitution of India in 1954. After losing his royal title, he served for two terms as a member of the Legislative Council of Bengal. He also served in the Lok Sabha,[5] the lower house of the Indian Parliament.'' (.............from wikipedia)

The royal family had been ruling their dominions and estates from their palace called  Jhargram Palace for a pretty long time. The kingdom  was in its  heyday during the reign of Raja Narasingha Malla Deb and he was well assisted by his mentor and Dewan  Rai Bahadur Debendra Mohan Bhattacharya.  The palace commissioned by the ruler and the Dewan in 1931 on a plot of 30 acres of greenery is a beautiful and majestic one and its design is  in Indo-saracenic style. In the 1800s many public  buildings in the Madras Presidency as well as palaces in the princely states  like  Baroda   were designed with a blend of European style blended with lots of native indian design elements. 

The Jhargram Raj Palace rich in  opulent Italianate structure, stands in the midst of lawns and gardens in the town.  The Calcutta Improvement Trust during the reign of Raja Narasingha Malla Deb Bahadur in 1931  undertook the task of restructuring it and came up with certain architectural features to match the regal style of the royal family. The Palace Guest House is part of the palace complex and it was meant for the comfortable stay of visiting dignitaries from the colonial government and other kingdoms. Lord Willingdon, the British Viceroy of India, Sir John Arthur Herbert- the Governor of Bengal, Lord Richard Casey- the Governor of Bengal were some of the colonial officials who stayed here  

The Palatial Guest House maintains the record of important people who stayed here in the past centuries. Located at the edge of Jhargram town, 178 km from Kolkata is an eco-tourism centre and a visit to the tribal museum  will help you understand the indigenous culture and lifestyle of the region. During monsoon, one can see lots of birds, particularly migratory birds. The area being rich in forest, there are countless wild elephants in the interior parts.